Prep Football: Carson 36, North Rowan 0
By Nick Bowton
SPENCER ó North Rowan quarterback Jesse Rudisell retreated to the end zone chasing a botched snap, recovered the loose ball and found himself surrounded by a pair of Carson defenders before he had time to make another move.
Before those two Cougars could take Rudisell down, another two had joined the pack. Then three more.
Seven players combined to swallow Rudisell for a safety, a play that showed as much as any other Friday night that Carson players wanted to get in on every piece of history they could.
The Carson defense spent the whole night chasing and catching Rudisell, and the Cougars’ chase for history ended with a 36-0 victory, the first in the school’s three-year existence.
“They’re hungry,” Carson coach Mark Woody said. “They’ve been hungry. When you get kids like that that are hungry, that work hard … we haven’t won a game in two years. We got over 100 kids in the program, 55 dressed out, people coming and filling up our stands over here.
“That’s just good stuff.”
If you’re Carson, sure. But if you’re North Rowan?
There wasn’t much good about the Cavaliers’ second loss in as many games under first-year coach Tasker Fleming. North finished with negative-44 yards of offense, had 22 of its 43 plays go for a loss and didn’t take a snap in Carson territory.
“We have a chance to do certain things against certain teams, and tonight, the things we worked on this week we never got to,” Fleming said. “We got into that second-and-20, third-and-20 mode. Obviously, this offense is not ready for that.
“We can’t afford negative plays. It’s not a youth issue. It’s just a discipline issue and a focus issue.”
For the most part, Carson didn’t have those types of problems Friday night.
Sure, the Cougars had seven first-half penalties, but they appeared focused on their first victory from the first quarter on.
Last season, Carson’s offense consisted of running back Daniel Yates left, Yates right, Yates up the middle. Last night, however, the Cougars ran offensive sets with three and four receivers. Their first two touchdowns were a 20-yard pass from Ryan Jones to Yates, now a receiver, and a 7-yard pass from Jones to Akeim Scarborough.Those touchdowns gave Carson a 13-0 lead that held up until halftime, and the defense continued its dominant performance on the first drive of the second half.
After a first half that featured an interception by Scott Ashby and sacks by freshman Chris Barnhardt and sophomore Joseph Basinger, Barnhardt stopped North’s first drive of the third quarter when he knocked Rudisell’s helmet off and then recovered the ensuing fumble in the end zone. “Our linemen were making holes big enough for trucks to go through,” said Barnhardt, a linebacker. “We worked together as a team really well. We came together there at the beginning and stayed together all the way through.”
After Barnhardt’s touchdown, Carson turned to its rushing game.
Woody said the Cougars “wanted to make a statement and come out and run the ball hard in the third quarter,” and the statement couldn’t have been made any clearer.
Carson’s first drive of the second half ended with a turnover on downs, but the Cougars churned out 38- and 41-yard touchdown runs on their next two offensive plays. Sandwich that safety in between the runs from Jacquarian Brown and Shaun Warren, and Carson led 36-0 with 11:45 remaining.
At that point, a team that hadn’t won a game in its first two seasons was actually resting starters and putting in backups for mop-up duty.
In one game, Carson had its first victory, first shutout and first chance to let starters enjoy a shortened night.
“We felt like we were ready when we got off the bus,” Yates said. “We were quiet the whole bus ride. Even the freshmen were quiet. They knew they had something to take care of. We all knew we had something to take care of. This is the greatest game I ó oh, my Lord ó this is the best thing I’ve ever felt in my life.
“I’m so glad it’s over though.”